In New Orleans, a young woman named Muriel goes missing. Her sister, Amelia, arrives to look for her. Aided by her aunt's lover, an ex-CIA agent named Bill, Amelia finds evidence on Muriel's computer of conversations with a mysterious and philosophical man. Bill and Amelia's search for him is fitful, but we learn that he's Eddie, a local exterminator who wants to produce and direct a movie about Nicholas Tesla. We follow Eddie, full of schemes, and we meet his brother, Tom, a firefighter who may know something about the death of a man whose widow, Hannah, seeks him out. What has happened to Muriel? Is this a world where anything can be known? Written by
As a native of New Orleans, when I heard that a movie was being made here that would involve (singer) Ernie K-Doe, my inner monologue was one protracted groan. We are used to having Hollywood portray the city along familiar lines -- lots of gumbo, voodoo and Mardi Gras as a daily occurrence, and maybe a black guy in a cowboy hat as a member of law enforcement. The Big Easy is a perfect example of such a cliche-peppered representation.
I put it together a few days later that the director was the director of Nadja, one of my favorite vampire movies, so I thought, well, maybe this guy will get it.
And get it he did, getting down with the superamazing and description-defying Ernie K-Doe, sort of the Muhammad Ali of New Orleans Rhythm and Blues. His club, the Mother-in-Law Lounge, served until his death as sort of a pagan night church that improbably brought Orleanians of widely varying stripes together to backchorus his songs.
The central thread of HAPPY HERE AND NOW is the confounding side of New Orleans, a wall against the main character finding information about her missing sister. But the magical, unyielding city offers compensatory joys -- second line parades, Ally Sheedy as an older New Orleans kookster/auntee, and hula hip hop in people's apartments.
Have you ever seen a movie set in New Orleans that has NO scenes in the French Quarter? This may be the first. Capturing the oddness of the city in scenes such as David Arquette's character working as a termite man who puts huge tents over Victorian houses, director Almareyda captures the soul of America's bottom, a mystery, overlaid onto a tale which is loosely a "mystery" (where's the missing sister).
A discrete and oblique joyful noise leads the viewer to these Pied Piper's New World caves, revealing everyday oddness as beautiful.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?